Commentary

Misogyny Rampant Online, Study Finds

In a finding that will come as a surprise to no one who exists on planet Earth or has even minimal contact with the planet, a new study from Britain confirms that misogyny is rampant on social media, where it is often employed by (frequently anonymous) social media users to silence women expressing opinions they disagree with or investigating sensitive subjects like, well, misogyny.

The study, conducted by research outfit Demos and cited by a task force composed of members of the major British political parties in Parliament, tracked the use of the words “slut” and “whore” by Twitter users in the first three weeks of April this year. In Britain roughly 6,500 individuals received a total of around 10,000 aggressive tweets using these words. Globally, around 80,000 people received a total of over 200,000 tweets using the same words.

However, it should be noted that the results don’t fall into the easy man-versus-woman hate schema that you might assume: in fact, the global study found that more than half of the people tweeting aggressively against women were women themselves (apparently confirming numerous anecdotal reports about “mean girls” in high school).

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The latter result certainly suggests the problem is more complicated than it first appears, involving a fair amount of what might be termed internalized misogyny, but presumably the effect on the subjects of the abuse is much the same, regardless of who is dishing it out. After all, does it really matter if the person calling you a slut on Twitter is a man or a woman?

A separate survey, cited in the same Parliamentary report, also found that online abuse tends to focus on members of traditionally female professions, especially teachers. Out of 1,300 teachers polled, half said that they had received social media abuse relating to their work, with half of this group noting that the abuse came from parents. Meanwhile, the proportion of teachers receiving social media abuse from students increased from 48% in 2015 to 55% this year.

In conclusion, humanity continues to be consistently disappointing and more than occasionally vile. Carry on!

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